UniCredit Germany eyes options for online broker: paper

FRANKFURT Fri Apr 4, 2014 4:09pm EDT

UniCredit Bank headquarters is pictured in Milan March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

UniCredit Bank headquarters is pictured in Milan March 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - UniCredit's (CRDI.MI) German unit HVB is mulling options for its online broker business DAB Bank (DRNG.DE), including a possible sale, an internet-based newspaper reported on Friday.

HVB has hired U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley to evaluate strategic options for DAB, the Wall Street Journal Germany said on its Internet site, citing people familiar with the matter. HVB could also keep DAB, the people told the paper.

DAB, Germany's oldest online broker with a market capitalization of nearly 350 million euros ($479 million), is 81 percent owned by HVB, with the rest in free float.

HVB said it would not comment on market rumors linked to DAB, whose share closed up 2.9 percent on Friday.

"In principle, we are continuously analyzing our bank's share holdings, including strategic options such as sales and acquisitions," an HVB spokeswoman said.

Morgan Stanley declined comment. DAB was not immediately available for comment.

The online broker, which has around 621,000 customers, saw net profit fall by a third last year to around 12.3 million euros, hurt by the effects of low interest rates on net interest income, trading and investment.

Other financial players are already well on their way to restructuring their positions in Germany's low margin and crowded banking sector.

State-rescued lender Hypo Real Estate HRESH.UL has attracted three final bids for its public finance unit Depfa Bank HRXGP.UL and is likely to pick a buyer within the next couple of weeks, sources familiar with the process told Reuters this week.

In addition, private equity investor Lone Star is expected to receive bids from some large European banks for corporate bank IKB (IKBG.F), one of Germany's high-profile victims of the financial crisis, two people familiar with the transaction told Reuters on Friday.

($1 = 0.7303 Euros)

(Reporting by Jonathan Gould and Hans Seidenstuecker; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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